Happy Wednesday from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference, and can I just tell you it's absolutely beautiful here! For the last three days (I got in on Sunday) we have had nothing but stunning blue skies, 80+ degree weather, all while nestled into the Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center at the edge of the mountains. We've been learning, making friends, singing worship songs together-- it's been incredible.
For this girl from Buffalo who loves the sun and is at the tail end of a six month season of gray clouds and cold weather this place is like water to my parched soul.
I'm also writing this post from a quiet hotel room at that serene conference center, so for those of you that are mommas I know you know how renewing it can be to get a way for a day or two and focus on a piece of your life that has nothing to do with managing the pieces of your little people's lives. You all know how deeply I love my people, and their pieces, but a break is good for the soul.
A quick, funny story about momma breaks, and conferences...
My good friend Sarah stopped by on Saturday, the day before I left. Our house was trashed, and I mean TRASHED. We had had a busy week with birthday parties-- one that we were hosting, and others the girls were attending-- and then soccer, school, book projects, etc. Add in my packing and getting ready and we wound up with a whirlwind of mess all around us.
What I love about Sarah is how real we can be with each other. I invited her in, she and I laughed at the mess, and then we talked about how I was leaving and joked about how she needs to find a job or a hobby so she can go to a conference too (her husband had just come back from multi-day work trip in some warm place that I can't recall right now).
We brainstormed for a minutes about passions she could suddenly take up, just so she could find a conference and get away for a few days--I mean anything-- quilting, stamp collecting, a newly found interest in environmental biology...whatever.
"What about horses, do you like horses?" My husband, who was standing in the kitchen asked.
"I do. I do like horses," she said.
"There you go," I added. "Let's find you a horse conference!"
She smiled at the thought of it. She likes horses, but she's not a horse lover, but when you're a momma looking for a chance to get away and not feel bad about it, sometimes you're ready to go anywhere and try anything just for the break-- just for the distraction from the overwhelming responsibility of being a momma 24/7.
Here's the thing...
I think every mom needs to get away for a few days sometimes, and I don't think we give ourselves permission often enough.
I've had this conversation with my own mom a couple of times over the last few years-- I'll tell her that I'm driving to Rochester for a writing workshop for a day, or in January I drove to a monastery that is about an hour from my house to find some quiet (which wasn't quite the retreat that I expected it to be, but that's a whole other story). And she'll say, "I always wished I could have done something like that when you kids were young."
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, like in Back to the Future, and somehow make a way for my mom to get away-- I think it would have refueled and refreshed her soul in ways that would have given her renewed energy for her own tasks at hand. Life hasn't been easy for her, and when we were younger I can't even imagine how overwhelming it all felt, but I do know she needed space for her soul to grow-- space that she didn't get.
So here I am-- in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I arrived tired and weary, and am just beginning to feel renewed: Because my mind has had some time to focus on the Lord, and to be with other people who love Jesus too. Because the academic part of my mind is being engaged by the many classes I've attended already, and the inspirational keynotes that have reminded us all that we have a God inspired seed of dream inside of us, and we need to tend it to make it grown.
We have been reminded that our dark world needs our light bearing, grace-filled messages and have been given permission to share those messages and share them boldly.
Isn't it funny how sometimes, especially as we get older, we need to be given permission to do the things we should do?!
It's all been very good--this time away. Refreshing. Encouraging. Inspiring.
I've made some new friends and have taken enormous amounts of notes that I'll have to process when I get home.
And since I'm here, and you might be wondering-- is it worth it? Should I do it? Should I take that leap and go to the conference and leave my family for a few days?
The answer is, YES.
I miss them dearly. They've struggled a little bit to get out the door in the morning (which makes me feel sad), and apparently there was a crises of enormous proportions yesterday when one of the kiddos somehow carried Nutella onto our new couch (I'm glad I wasn't there to see that go down!), but it's all good.
I'll be more mentally prepared for the morning routine and for the Nutella crises when I get home on Friday.
So, moms...I give you permission.
To pursue a passion-- even a little one and to follow it to another state if you so feel led. I give you permission to jump out of the fray for a few days and let your own soul be renewed, or at the very least temporarily distracted, but distracted in the very best way.
Here are a few photos from the last couple days (I have a few more that I'll post later, but I'm having trouble accessing them right now):
One quick update-- I've been thinking about the "30 Days of Life" posts that I'm committed to writing. I'm realizing that rather then squeeze them into 30 literal days (one month), that I will stretch them out over however long they take me to write them, which simply makes more sense for my own life and our rhythms right now.
Each time I blog I'll just write "Day 3", "Day 4", and so on. So, you won't get 30 days in 30 days, and you'll have to put up with me blogging about random life for a little bit longer, but that's ok (;